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BEEP Beethoven, the man who freed music. Commemorating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig von Beethoven in 1770, one of a series of programs produced by the University of Michigan Broadcasting Service, reviewing the political, social, and musical climate of Europe during the lifetime of the man who freed music. Regardless of how time or individuals may evaluate the product of Beethoven's creative ability,
few of any can deny that great musical advances were made during the composer's lifetime. It's because of these advances and innovations by Beethoven in his compositions that this program carries as part of its title, the phrase, the man who freed music. Dr. Elwood S. Der, assistant professor of music theory in the University of Michigan School of Music, is today's program host, and the title of his discussion is Beethoven in Retrospect. He now is Dr. Der. How was the world of music different after Beethoven's death from when he first appeared on the musical horizon? In attempting to answer this question, it will be necessary among other things to consider the innovations and or improvements made in instruments and orchestration in the course of Beethoven's lifetime, Beethoven's achievements in tonality and form, as well as the change in the social status of composers.
Because of the time factor, my comments on all of these points will of necessity be brief. Let me begin by discussing the most tangible and easily demonstrable of these points, that is, the innovations and improvements made in instruments and orchestration. Because the piano was Beethoven's favorite instrument for his own performances, and because it is the instrument which underwent the most significant refinements during his career, the piano, or more exactly the piano forte, provides a good point of departure. Of all the musical instruments currently in use, the piano is one of the youngest. The grand pianos we know today is a development of the latter half of the 19th century, and is quite different in mechanism and sound from the instruments of Beethoven's time. The piano forte is usually assumed to be the invention of Bartola male Christopher of Florence in 179. Many men throughout Europe had a hand in the gradual perfection of Christopher's instrument.
One of these was Gottfried Zilbermann, a German instrument builder who, by 1723, had built several pianos and asked Sebastian Bach to play them and to comment upon them. The famous Bach, flatly condemned the instruments for the weakness of the tone in the treble and for their heavy actions. Some 40 years later, two of Bach's sons, Karl Philippe Manuel in Berlin, and more importantly, Johann Christianin London, were chiefly responsible for introducing the piano as a solo instrument on the concert platform. And, through performing on it and composing for it, helped to gain a permanent foothold for the instrument, removing it from the status of a novelty or curiosity. By the 1770s, Mozart had performed publicly on the piano, and, as the instrument continued to undergo further modifications and improvements, chiefly as the result of the work on the action by Johann Andreas Stein of Alksburg, Mozart began to prefer it to the harpsichord.
By 1780, he seems to have discarded the harpsichord altogether for his solo performances. How did this early so-called Mozart piano differ from the instrument we know today? Well, the strings were very fine, that is, of a very small diameter. The hammerheads were much smaller, made of a softer felt than we used today. It was straight strung, that is, all the strings went straight from the tuning pins to the hitching posts, instead of some of the longer strings being strung on a diagonal crossover, as they are on all modern grand pianos. Many instruments of the time did not have sustaining pedals, so that the strings would continue to vibrate only so long as the keys were depressed. However, many had attachments or stops that were set into operation by pedals or drawbars. The most common of these stops was the bass drum or Turkish music stop. When this device was put into operation, a piece of silk paper was placed against the strings of the bass register, which made a harsh buzzing sound whenever the strings vibrated against it.
In the first musical example, you will hear this stop used in the so-called Turkish Rondo, which forms the finale to Mozart's piano sonata in a major, Curkle 331. Before listening to the example, perhaps a word of explanation is in order in regard to Turkish, or as it is sometimes called, Janissary music. In the orchestra, the instruments come in the understood to make up Janissary music, are the bass drum, cymbals, and triangle, and not infrequently the piccolo as well. There was a great vogue for this exotic device at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries. It was usually used to create an oriental effect in stage works. One thinks immediately, of course, of the overture and Janissary courses in Mozart's abduction from the Serralio of 1782, for example, where these instruments are heard prominently. To the listener, at the turn of the 19th century, works containing this instrumental combination, where every bit as oriental in flavor,
as where particular works of Rimsky Korsakov, Borodin, Debussy, and Revel, 100 years later. Beethoven, like most composers of his period, used this device whenever a suitable occasion arose. In his output, two examples of the use of Turkish music stand out. The Turkish March, in his incidental music, to Kotsubuus play the ruins of Athens, first produced in 1812, and the finale of the 9th Symphony, first performed on May 7, 1824. Because the Turkish music in the symphony makes its appearance in the finale only, and because of the associations Beethoven and his immediate audience made with it, it is entirely possible that the intent here is an illustrative one, crucial to a fuller comprehension of the principal message of that finale. Ale mention Velton Brüro, that is, all men shall become brothers, which is demonstrated musically in this movement by a combination of Eastern and Western music.
The first musical example, which you will hear in a moment, is in two parts. The first is the Turkish March from Beethoven's incidental music to the ruins of Athens, in its original orchestral setting. The second is the Turkish Rondo from Mozart's Piano Sonata, Kirkel 331. In listening to this performance of the Rondo on a Mozart piano, I should like to direct your attention to a number of details. You will note immediately the resemblance of the piano sound to that of the harpsichord in its thinness and clarity. This sort of sound is chiefly the result of the small diameter of the strings, the fact that there are only two strings to the treble unison instead of the three on modern instruments, as well as the small size and striking area of the hammers. The bass drum stop speaks eloquently for itself. Here, then, is Beethoven's Turkish March, followed by Mozart's Turkish Rondo, played by Palbadora Scoda,
a piano built by Anton Walter of Vienna at the end of the 18th century. In the 18th century, Beethoven's Turkish Rondo, played by Anton Walter of Vienna at the end of the 18th century, played by Anton Walter of Vienna at the end of the 18th century, played by Anton Walter of Vienna at the end of the 18th century,
played by Anton Walter of Vienna at the end of the 18th century, played by Anton Walter of Vienna at the end of the 18th century, played by Anton Walter of Vienna at the end of the 18th century, played by Anton Walter of Vienna at the end of the 18th century,
played by Anton Walter of Vienna at the end of the 18th century, played by Anton Walter of Vienna at the end of the 18th century, played by Anton Walter of Vienna at the end of the 18th century, played by Anton Walter of Vienna at the end of the 18th century,
played by Anton Walter of Vienna at the end of the 18th century, played by Anton Walter of Vienna at the end of the 18th century, played by Anton Walter of Vienna at the end of the 18th century, played by Anton Walter of Vienna at the end of the 18th century, played by Anton Walter of Vienna at the end of the 18th century,
played by Anton Walter of Vienna at the end of the 18th century, played by Anton Walter of Vienna at the end of the 18th century, played by Anton Walter of Vienna at the end of the 18th century, known as farshibung or unacorda, which was the model for the so-called soft pedal still in use today. This device shifted the entire action laterally so that each hammer would strike only one string instead of two or three, hence the terms farshibung or shift and unacorda or one string. The operation of the so-called loud pedal of this time was much the same as it is today. When the pedal was depressed, all the dampers were raised from the strings and allowed those strings already vibrating to continue, although the key itself had been released. This pedal provides the further advantage of permitting the sympathetic vibration of other strings throughout the instrument. The perfection of these pedals began to take place in the last decade of the 18th century, concurrently with the expansion of the range of the piano.
In much the same way, as one can observe the gradual extension of the compass of the keyboard in Beethoven's works for the piano, one can also note the progress in the perfection of the pedals. Indications for the use of pedals are almost entirely lacking in the piano works of Mozart and Heiden, but in Beethoven's work, quite early on, there is a considerable number of pedal markings. As Beethoven and the piano grew to greater maturity, the pedal markings in his piano works became more and more precise. A glance at the fact similarly of the autograph of the Valkstein Sonato, for example, shows that the revisions he undertook in preparing the final version of this work affected the pedal indications as much as the musical text. It is one of Beethoven's greatest achievements that he was able to create music suitable for the piano, an instrument for which there was no established technique or mode of videomatic writing, an instrument which only began to be perfected during his lifetime.
Even if one ignores the pedal indications, Beethoven's mature piano works are eminently unsuitable for the harpsichord because of the range he employed, the spacing of vertical sonorities, the long sustained lines he so often requires, and so forth. This cannot be said of the works specifically designated for the piano by Heiden and Mozart, because their particular keyboard techniques were founded principally on that for the harpsichord, so that most, if not all of their piano works, can be rather successfully translated to the older instrument. To close this portion of the discussion, I would like you to listen to the final movement of Beethoven's piano sonata in D minor, Opus 31 number 2, the so-called Tempest Sonata, performed by Professor Kenneth Drake of Erlem College on a broadwood-grant piano built around 1830. You will note that the sound of this instrument is somewhat more suave than that of the Mozart piano you heard earlier, but you will also note that there is still a sort of harpsichord quality to the sound.
It is all together a very different sound from that of the modern grand piano on which we hear Beethoven's piano works performed nowadays. Here, then, is the final movement of Beethoven's piano sonata in D minor, Opus 31 number 2, performed by Kenneth Drake on a broadwood-grant piano. Music Music Music Music Music Music Music Music Music
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Music Music Beethoven in Retrospect, an illustrated lecture by Dr. Elwood S. Durr, Assistant Professor of Music Theory at the University of Michigan School of Music. Another in the series Beethoven the Man Who Freed Music, commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Birth of Ludwig von Beethoven in 1770, exploring the political, social and musical climate of Europe during the lifetime of the man who freed music. Music
Music Music
Series
Beethoven: The Man Who Freed Music
Episode Number
13
Producing Organization
University of Michigan Broadcasting Service
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
AAPB ID
cpb-aacip/500-wh2ddb6c
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Series Description
Beethoven: The Man Who Freed Music is a program from the University of Michigan Broadcasting Service and the National Educational Radio Network. The series focuses on Beethovens life and works through musical selections and lectures from faculty members at the University of Michigan. The program was originally produced in 1970 in celebration of the 200th anniversary of Beethovens birth, and was later distributed by National Public Radio.
Topics
Music
Biography
Education
Recorded Music
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Sound
Duration
00:59:29
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Producing Organization: University of Michigan Broadcasting Service
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 70-15-13 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 01:00:00?
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Citations
Chicago: “Beethoven: The Man Who Freed Music; 13,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 25, 2024, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-wh2ddb6c.
MLA: “Beethoven: The Man Who Freed Music; 13.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 25, 2024. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-wh2ddb6c>.
APA: Beethoven: The Man Who Freed Music; 13. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-wh2ddb6c